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The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd Edition

100 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195154627
ISBN-10: 0195154622
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Editorial Reviews


"An outstanding introduction. Blends contemporary scholarship, the early Christian world, and attention to the needs of students most skillfully. The best introduction currently available."--Francis J. Moloney, The Catholic University of America

"Ehrman's historical introduction to the New Testament is written more clearly than any other I have used; it situates Christianity more honestly in the ancient Greco-Roman world. It does not limit the picture of Christianity to the New Testament but draws on other early Christian writings. Lavishly illustrated."--John L. White, Loyola University

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3 edition (July 31, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195154622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195154627
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.7 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #914,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

260 of 282 people found the following review helpful By Stephen on December 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
Bart Ehrman's 'The New Testament' is a superb work for teachers seeking to assign their students a readable, reliable, and challenging introduction to the history of earliest Christianity and its literature. Incidentally, it would also be a fine first stop for intelligent readers who want to know what historians of early Christianity are saying about the birth of this religion and the origins of the New Testament. The work is engagingly written, with an occasional and not inappropriate first-person, and it has the merit of representing balanced, critical positions in the much debated-territory of New Testament studies. Ehrman's disinclination to accept a variety of trendy and dubious by-ways in New Testamental studies can be seen in his treatment of three areas. First, while not neglecting the Greco-Roman context, he positions Jesus squarely in the Jewish context and sees him as an apocalyptic teaching bent on internal reform of Judaism. Miracles are part of the picture, as they were for other charismatic Jewish teachers of the time (cf. the work of Geza Vermes). Ehrman declines to follow the scholars who with zeal and imagination claim to sort out editorial levels (and the communities or theological trajectories) in the hypothetical 'Q' document ('Q' = German 'Quelle' or 'source', i.e., the hypothetical sayings source lying behind the commonalities in Matthew and Luke and not in Mark). Thirdly in this regard, Ehrman refuses the common move of positing the existence of gnostic Christianity (or any 'gnosticism) prior to the first hard evidence for it in the late first or early second century. So this is a book that you can trust to pass on the generally accepted theories and to reject the more speculative moves of the field.Read more ›
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113 of 122 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
In my view, Bart Ehrman writes with more clarity and strength than any other New Testament scholar. I have heard him speak, listened to his tapes and read his books. He exudes competency, frequently reminding us that his conclusions are those of a historian - then spends a little time explaining what that means. In the case of "The New Testament," it means he will examine authorship issues, content and revelancy of the various gospels, letters and apocolypses - inside or outside of the canon - differently than they might be examined from the pulpit. For example, issues of dogma are extensively discussed, but not endorsed nor advocated. Instead, they are examined for consistency within the whole context of the other books and the political setting in which the early church solidified its views. As a matter of fact, he is so non-committal it is impossible to tell exactly where he stands - although it is obvious he takes a liberal stance of some sort.

I had more than my share of fundamentalist preaching, yet values at home were those of inquiry and evidence toward the world in general. Ehrman's approach is more to my liking than reiteration of a dogma I've already heard, documented by passages from scripture pre-selected to prove a certain view. He compares the gospels, discusses the nuances of their differing themes and considers their probable authorship. The letters are treated similarly and the book of Revelations is subjected to a fascinating analysis. Consider the New Testament subjected to the kind of scrutiny one of Shakespeare's plays might receive from a college professor of western world literature - in which speculation is kept to a minimum and explanation is made as to the historical context of the story.
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348 of 409 people found the following review helpful By J. C. Bailey on January 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is well written and closely argued, but as an introduction to the subject matter it fails on at least one important level: Unlike, say, John Drane's "Introduction to the New Testament" or Raymond Brown's more detailed overview from the Catholic perspective, Ehrman does not introduce us to a representative sample of scholarly thought. Instead it mainly argues the case for Ehrman's own position, and in the process it takes for granted certain assumptions that are more widely contested than he seems willing to admit. In other words, there is a tendency to cite opinions that other equally reputable scholars would contest as though they were established fact.
Another difficulty with using this book as an introduction to the subject is that Ehrman does not give the reader enough assistance in investigating his influences and antecedents. He makes some quite radical assertions (e.g. challenging the traditional view that the oral traditions of pre-literate societies tend to be transmitted reliably) without the conventional footnotes quoting authorities and sources. Apart from some general further reading suggestions at the end of chapters, Ehrman's assertions along the lines that "recent research has shown" or "it is now accepted" have to be taken on his say-so alone.
Actually, Ehrman's antecedents are fairly obvious to anyone who has read theology - he continues the tradition of 19th century liberals like Wrede (and their 20th century disciples like Bultmann) who drew a sharp distinction between (i) the Jesus of history and (ii) the Christ of the Church's faith, and assumes that the Bible can only inform us about the latter.
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